- Over two thirds feel sport should do more to help the community, improve inequality, or act sustainably
- 15% of 16 to 24-year-olds also believe sport to be more divisive than uniting, compared to 5% of 55 to 64-year-olds
- Younger fans expect sports and politics to become increasingly interconnected in the future
More than two thirds of sports fans aged 16 to 24 support environmental change and have higher expectations from brands, teams and athletes to support their values, according to new research from market researcher Global Web Index (GWI).
The Sports Playbook, formed using GWI’s new sports data set which surveyed 9,763 sports fans aged 16 to 64 across 15 core markets, shows that 69 per cent of those in the 16 to 24 age bracket want to see sport’s stakeholders do more to help the community, improve inequality, or act sustainably.
The study also anticipates that younger fans expect sports and politics to become increasingly interconnected in the future.
In addition, GWI’s data highlights that reliance on the generational passing down of following specific teams is phasing out, as the younger generation find their own values that they look for in the teams they support.
The study also found that diversity and corporate social responsibility are crucial to winning new fans, with brand purpose and social responsibility considered ‘absolutely essential today’.
Additionally, GWI says that brands should not think twice about investing in women’s sports, with 60 per cent of fans watching or following at least one of the 30 women’s sports leagues and competitions tracked in the study. This is even higher among female fans, with seven in ten tuning into female leagues.
Further to this, the research shows that young fans increasingly believe sports to be more divisive than uniting. Around 15 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds feel that way compared to just five per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds.
The study also found that cricket has gained the biggest share of those watching on both broadcast TV and online, generating a respective 14 per cent and 19 per cent increase year-on-year, while ice hockey has suffered the biggest loss in live broadcast TV viewers, down 19 per cent.
For cycling enthusiasts, there has been no change at all to those watching on TV, with only a small increase (three per cent) in those watching online. If the Olympics takes place this summer, the study states that the UK can expect to see 76 per cent of fans tune in and follow the event.
With regards to viewing habits, GWI says that Gen X in particular much prefer to watch sports events on TV (83 per cent) than online (66 per cent), while Millennials are more comfortable with both options at 79 per cent and 74 per cent respectively.
Nearly two thirds of sports fans watch highlights online every week, and over half of ‘baby boomers’ say the same, according to the study. At 62 per cent, UK fans are the world’s second most likely to pay for a subscription to watch sports content, second only to India at 77 per cent.